NFL Combine: Age Rule, Barkley & Geno

2013-nfl-draft-results

Ready for a major dose of terms like “character issues”, “wonderlick”, “short shuttle”, and the much-discussed 40 yard dash. Yes, it’s that time of the year again where the ultimate cattle-call named the NFL Combine makes its way into our psyche. This year however begins differently as age restriction and an unusually poor quarterback class marks the fray.

Age restriction

Considered by many to be college football’s best, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney isn’t even eligible. An NFL rule requires prospects to either be out of high school for three years or have finished three college football seasons before they can join the league. The NFL believes this rule protects players’ safety. Recently, I debated this issue with NFL Insider Jayson Braddock on Houston’s 790am. He agrees with the NFL and added the rule keeps youngsters from making bad choices which could foil their career. Braddock said…

Most that come out at 18-19 won’t make it. Body not ready. Won’t get another chance.”

He’s correct. The safety issue is a legitimate one. For the most part, 18/19 year olds’ bodies are not mature enough for NFL physicality…for the most part. Jadeveon Clowney is one of the exceptions.

In my book, any young man who’s projected to be selected number one overall should be made eligible. Young athletes are like everyone else in the sense they’re potential workers looking for financial income. They should be allowed to acquire compensation especially considering the NFL selects its workers based on ability. Does Jadeveon Clowney have the ability? The answer is yes!

Poor Quarterback Class
Draft attention is always high toward the signal callers. This year’s class is weak bringing uncertainty, however, there are two prospects benefitting. USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.

Barkley announced he’s not throwing at the combine. As of last week, he was planning to fully participate in the drills, calling it “probably the biggest test of my life.” Trust me when I say Barkley was never going to throw. The claim is he’s not been medically cleared, but if he were healthy he still would not have thrown. Top quarterbacks routinely wait until their pro day to throw, and with the lackluster effort of QB prospects at the Senior Bowl, Barkley wins without playing. Barring injury, with the media’s help look for Barkley’s stock to incorrectly rise after his pro day.

The other benefactor is Geno Smith. Considered by many to be the highest rated quarterback of the 2013 NFL Draft… much depends on whether Smith can convince the Chiefs he should be the No. 1 pick. He has the arm strength to make all the throws but he’ll need to improve his accuracy on deeper routes. One aspect I do like is his ability to throw from multiple angles. A quarterback’s line of sight is very important to pocket passing.

At 6’3″, 220 pounds, the height-weight ratio is not a problem for Smith – but for myself, he doesn’t pass the eyeball test of a top tier prospect. Much like Barkley, he benefitted from strong receivers (Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey) and far too often Geno Smith was a one-read thrower. I would’ve like to see him look off more, bait the safety as improvisation isn’t his strong suit. Geno Smith will need a strong quarterback coach and patience to be a better than average NFL quarterback.

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